At climate summit, buzz of outrage over Mumbai massacre

December 2nd, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 2 (IANS) Anybody who looks remotely like an Indian and is at the UN climate change summit is first asked: “My god, what happened in Mumbai?” Any discussion on global warming comes a long way afterwards.As around 9,000 delegates from 186 countries, over 400 NGOs and dozens of UN organisations gathered in this western Poland city for the Dec 1-12 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Mumbai massacre kept coming back to haunt all Indians.

It affected everyone else too, as security at the conference venue - the Poznan International Fair complex, Europe’s largest complex of its kind - was tightened even more than is usual at such high-level meets.

Shamsi al Saba, a delegate from Oman, was standing in the long queue that formed at the entrance, thanks to the stricter security checks. “Are you from India?” he asked this IANS correspondent. On receiving a nod, he burst out: “My god, what happened in Mumbai?”

He was not really looking for an answer. Almost immediately, al Saba went on: “These are the people who bring a bad name to Islam. I hope your government really punishes them.”

UN security guards are usually as polite as they are firm. The one doing the body search at the entrance asked: “Have they caught everyone in Mumbai, sir? Hope they hang the whole lot.”

The next queue was the one to buy a local SIM card. A Malaysian woman in a headscarf asked the IANS correspondent: “Are you from India? Do you know why those people in Mumbai did it?”

In the press gallery of the huge plenary hall, minutes before the opening session of the conference, a Polish journalist said: “Everybody in your family okay? We saw it on TV. It was so horrible, I don’t know what to say?”

Miguel Sanchez, a journalist from Mexico, said: “We have these drug wars in my country where everyone gets killed. But this seems to have been far worse. And how did it go on for so many days?”

In the corridor outside the plenary hall, where the NGOs have their stands, Jane Ashley, member of a Canadian NGO, grabbed the arm of an Indian and blurted: “You all right? Oh, all those poor innocent people in Mumbai. What a nightmare.”

In the press conference room, a Japanese journalist said: “I was thinking of going to Goa for a few days after this summit, just to warm up after the weather here. I’m not going there now. What I saw on TV was too scary.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at joydeep.g@ians.in)

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